If you've never worked with a real financial planner before, you may not know what to expect from the relationship as it starts. Even if you've worked with an "advisor" over the years, you may think that all we'll focus on is your money. Welcome to a new vision of financial planning!
Many folks who have just begun working with me are surprised by how the life planning process starts. We don’t begin by talking about IRAs, 401(k)s, or how much you’re saving. Instead, we begin by talking about you, not your money.
Putting your life before your financial plan.
As a Life-Centered Planner, the process begins with understanding your life plan. I start by asking you about your family, your work, your home, your goals, and the things that you value the most.
My job is to build a financial plan that will help you make your life plan a reality, not the other way around. Instead of narrowing your focus to what you can do with the money you have today, I ask you to think about the money you need to create the life you want. What would your life look like if money were no object?
Of course, building wealth that will provide for your family and keep you comfortable today and in retirement is a part of that plan. So is monitoring your investments and assets and doing what we can to maximize your return on investment.
But I believe maximizing your Return on Life is just as important, if not more so. People who view money as an end in and of itself never feel like they have enough money. People who learn to view money as a tool start to see a whole new world of possibilities open in front of them.
One of the most important things your money can do for you is provide a sense of freedom. If you don’t feel locked into chasing after the next dollar, you’ll start exploring what else you can get out of life besides just more money. Is it possible to check out of the rat race and do something more fulfilling? Is it possible to change your spending and increase your happiness today?
In addition, feeling free to use your money in ways that fulfill you is going to become extremely important once you retire. Afterall, you’re going to have to do something with the 40 hours every week you used to spend working! But you’re also going to have to allow yourself to stop focusing on saving and start enjoying the life that your assets can provide.
Again, having money and building wealth is a part of the plan. But it’s not THE plan in and of itself.
The earlier you start thinking about how you can use your money to balance your vocation with vacation, your sense of personal and professional progress with recreation and pleasure, and the demands of supporting your family with achieving your individual goals, the freer you’re going to feel.
And achieving that kind of freedom with your money isn’t just going to help you sleep soundly at night – it’s going to make you feel excited to get out of bed the next morning.
What’s coming next?
So, when does the planning process end?
If you’re like most of the people I work with, never.
Life-Centered Planning isn’t about hitting some number with your savings, investments, and assets. It's about adjusting your plan over time to take into account your changing life and circumstances. I'm much more concerned about how your life is going than how the markets are performing.
Some transitions we’ll be able to anticipate, like a child going to college, a big family vacation you’ve been planning for, and, for many of you, the actual date of your retirement. Other transitions, like a sudden illness or a big out-of-state move for work, I’ll help you adjust for as necessary.
In some cases, your life plan might change simply because you want something different out of life. You might start contemplating a career change. You might decide home doesn’t feel like home anymore and start looking for a new house. You might lose yourself in a new hobby and decide to invest some time and money in perfecting it. You might decide it’s time to be your own boss and start a brand new company.
Planning for and reacting to these moments where your life and your money intersect is what I do best. Come in and talk to me about how Life-Centered Planning can help you get the best life possible with the money you have, along with figuring our what money you need to create that best life now and in the future.